The consensus of most baseball people I've talked to is that Game 5 of the ALCS could be John Lackey's last as an Angel, barring an unlikely three-win comeback against the Yankees, of course.I'm torn on this one. The Angels need a true ace in the worst way if they are going to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees next year. Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana have ace like stuff, but neither guy is an ace. Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver are nice pitchers to have on a staff, but neither of them is an ace. Outside of Lackey, Weaver is probably the closest thing the Angels have right now to an ace.
As the most appealing pitcher in the free-agent market, Lackey will be heavily pursued by a number of teams, and although the Angels would like to keep him, the feeling is they won't pay the expected $75 million to $100 million over five years that his agent is likely to ask.
After what has happened in the postseason, however, you wonder if Arte Moreno should reconsider his stance.
The acquisition of Scott Kazmir was supposed to give Moreno the leverage to let Lackey go. But considering the disappointing way Kazmir has pitched in his two playoff appearances, you can't help but question if that's still the case.
One writer described the Angels' staff heading into the postseason as four No. 2 starters. I don't agree with that. When he's sound, Lackey, who was brilliant in Game 1 of he ALDS, is a No. 1 starter. It's just that he's not quite at the same elite level as the CC Sabathias, Cliff Lees and Roy Halladays.
If the 2010 Angels are led by those four pitchers, then they can very well win the AL West. But does anyone honestly think they would have a realistic shot to win the World Series? I don't.
The problem for the Angels is that Lackey is the only bonafide ace on the market, which means competition will be fierce and the price tag will be steep. Are the Angels willing to go out of their comfort zone and give Lackey the gigantic contract he's looking for? I don't think so, but if GM Tony Reagins is concerned enough about his rotation, then all bets are off. I think the Angels would be better off exploring the option of Roy Halladay instead of ponying up for Lackey, but only time will tell.
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